Chateau de Chambord
Just supposed to be a hunting lodge for Francois the I. He began the construction process in 1515 with the main center keep and royal wing completed by the time of his death in 1547. In this photo there is an outer wall which came later. But the two main tourets are the back side of the main section of the chateau and you can just see the royal wing chimneys on the far right side of the photo.
Aside from the chateau's formidable size is the convergence of an Italian Renaissance stye that Francois introduced...perhaps influenced by his conquest of the Italian province of Milan. It is believed Leonardo da Vinci, who moved to France in 1516 at the French king's request, had a hand in the design of the chateau.
I cannot even begin to explain the incredible double staircase in the center of the keep. I will quote the tourist brochure. "The staircase comprises two concentric spiral flights of stairs that wind independently around a hallow column, so if two people each take one flight they can see each other through the openings in the central column but will never meet."
Sounds like the setting for a Shakespearean tragedy.
The second floor ceiling hallways are carved with a combination of Francois' monogram and his emblem, the chameleon which is a mythical animal able to live in fire.
The king's household, to include all his furnishing and decorations such as tapestries, traveled with him. When he left the chateau so did all of the interior pieces.
This is one of two "simple" staircases with outside access.
It was wonderful to get on the terraces for spectacular views. The chateau sits on 5440 hectares or 13,442 acres. It's the largest enclosed park in Europe and is roughly the size of Inner Paris. I think by Inner Paris they mean the 20 sections that make up the "escargot" layout of Paris...huge area!
In one of my readings it said the roofline was inspired by the city of Constaninople. I can definitely see that vision.
But all of it was truly constructed to serve primary as a hunting lodge. Makes me feel better about my husband calling our house in Alaska a "cabin." Compared to this we might call our house a shed!
There was one huge wood stove with decorative tiles on the exterior. It was sitting in one of the many monstrous fireplaces. This type of fireplace is commonly found in Eastern France...but a bit smaller for the average home use.
There were several fires going in many of the fireplaces the day we were visiting but it really didn't seem to help. And the fireplaces were so large they were burning sections of whole tree trunks. All those big rooms and wonderfully large staircases were really best for warmer climates...like Italy...where the design inspiration came from. Sometimes you don't get it right the first time! Good thing Francios the I had other chateaux.
Louis the XIV and Louis the V spent some time here and partitioned off the large rooms to make smaller rooms, with smaller fireplaces, that were a bit easier to heat. I grabbed this photo from Wikipedia. I yawned through this part...once you have been to Versailles...well...this part is not so impressive.
The chateau had a fabulous gift shop. I bought this wonderful book.
Great sketches of this chateau with little descriptions and interesting facts.
And I got hubby's father's day present...good thing he rarely reads my blog. Pillow covers...they will look great at our hunting "cabin" in Alaska.
After all this wondrous effort, Francois the I, only spent a total of 72 days here, though he ruled for 32 years. He must have been too busy working to enjoy his little vacation home.
A few more facts...the brochure says there are 77 staircases, 282 fireplaces and 426 rooms. It is so amazingly light and airy inside. There are two guest cabins on the grounds available for rental. Sorry...no rooms available for your stay in the chateau.